It is one of the richest places in the world. Containing hundreds of thousands of tons of minerals—valued at over 106 Trillion dollars. It is a lake into which great wealth has been poured For the last three to four thousand years, this lake has been fed by the Jordan river. Fertilizer and mineral-rich silts have slowly accumulated.
Thousands of years ago, this lake was surrounded by a luxuriant valley—renowned the world over for its beauty.
It was the place to live. Perfect temperature, an abundance of flowers and fruit. It was the Hawaii of the day.
But there was a problem. All the wealth being poured into the lake had nowhere to go. As time passed, the wealth of the lake became more and more concentrated. Fish began to die. The lake, which had once been so full of life became harsh and inhospitable. Animals moved on. The thriving cities along its coastline began to fall into ruin as people moved away.
It is so dead, that it is called—The Dead Sea.
What happened? How did this once beautiful lake become so anti-life? So caustic that not even bacteria, which seem to be able to live almost anywhere, find it difficult to survive in its waters?
Seventy-five miles up the Jordan river is a completely different lake, the sea of Galilee. It too, over the last 3-4 thousand years, has been fed with rich, fertilizer laden silt. And yet, it is healthy and vibrant. A thriving community lives around it. Fish swim in the waters— along its edge can be found vineyards, orchards, gardens.
What is the difference between these two lakes? Why is the one so beautiful while the other so full of death?
Both have been filled with rich silt.
Both were once alive.
What made the difference?
One—the sea of Galilee—receives to give.
The other—the dead sea—takes and never gives back.
Rich Young Ruler
Our study is the story of a man who was very successful. Over the short years of his life, he had amassed wealth and success. He was the envy of his friends.
However, one thing troubled his mind. How could he be saved? The success he had in the world meant nothing if he would lose it all in the end.
A layer was sitting in my dad’s office. They had worked together for years, and my dad was praying for some way to share the gospel with him. They were talking about the future, and my dad began to ask questions.
What’s next on the horizon for you?
“Children graduate from college.”
“Become a multi-millionaire.”
“Retire, buy a nice house by the golf course, and play golf.”
“Spend time with my grandchildren, travel the world”
Then what? The room got very quiet. Then he responded, “Dr. Mills, I don’t like to think about that.”
At some point, we all reach the end of our “Then Whats…” At some point, the journey is ended, and what we have accumulated over the years of our lives, will disappear. Then what?
And this is the point that the rich man was at. He had run through the “Then Whats” in his mind. He had watched his wealthy friends pass away. He knew that once you died, there was no taking of his wealth beyond. This life, that was it.
He wanted more! He wanted to live forever!
And so he asks Christ the ultimate question.
“Now behold, one came and said to Him, ‘Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?’”Matthew 19:16
Jesus loves this question. His greatest desire is to save every human being. Mark 10:21, recounts this same story but adds a critical detail:
Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him…
As he looked into the eyes of this precious man, Christ saw an earnest seeker after truth. Here was a man who was striving to do what’s right, be faithful to the Lord. He was hard working, driven, and successful.
In answer to his question, Christ reveals the fundamental law of the universe. It is summarized in the word, “Love.”
The law is this:
Law: We Receive to Give.
This man had received talents, wealth, honor, prestige, success, and so much more. He had used these talents shrewdly and had increased them.
But he had used them for his own wealth and success. He was not using them to advance the kingdom of God. He was like the dead sea. His life was one of always getting but never giving back.
The anidote to his sink which is the core sin all of us face, was to:
“Go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and come, follow Me.”Matthew 19:21
“Pastor,” I can hear you say, “that’s a powerful thought Christ is bringing to bear. When I get what is good, I’ll make sure to give back good…”
But that’s not the only point.
No matter what we receive, we are to give back what is good.
“…But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…”Matthew 5:38-48
This is the gospel.
This is the giving of good in the face of unimaginable evil. When Christ was being nailed to the cross, when he took the sins of the world upon himself, He gave back good.
“Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”Luke 23:34
Sin is the opposite: Takes and keeps. It looks out for its self. It makes sure that my interests, my needs, my feelings, and my desires come ahead of everything else.
Why was Paul willing to be beaten, stoned, and so much more? 2 Cor 11:24-29.
He understood the gospel. He understood the call to give good in the face of incredible difficulty, pain, and hatred.
No wonder he penned the powerful promise:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
Church, we are so wealthy as Americans and as a congregation. I know what’s it is like to look at the bank statement, and wonder how we are going to get there. But do not forget that it is our heavenly Father who has given you a roof over your head. Are you giving back for the blessings He has given? Would you be willing to sell all that you have for the sake of the gospel?